Maya Vargas (Jennifer Lopez) works as an enterprising assistant at a home improvement chain. Passed over by her boss for a well-deserved promotion, she later bemoans its unfairness of best friend Joan (Leah Rimini). However Maya’s talents have not gone unnoticed as she later discovers to an incredible effect the very next day…
… a more grounded movie than its posters or trailers give it credit for.
Director Peter Segal’s romantic comedy is a more grounded movie than its posters or trailers give it credit for. Drawing inevitable comparisons to Melanie Griffith’s break-through role in ‘Working Girl’, this is one Jennifer Lopez vehicle that believably pulls away from its romantic comedy billing into something much more affecting than expected. Ably supported by an on-form supporting cast, thankfully any excess “romantic comedy” saccharine has been left in the craft services truck. Leah Rimini’s Joan is a genuinely entertaining mirror to Maya’s past whilst Milo Ventimiglia as her boyfriend Trey is both her love interest and the moral compass she needs.
With its simple beats and undemanding storyline, this is happily not a romantic comedy about “getting the guy” but instead finding the future you actually deserve. So whilst its feel-good ending never really feels like it’s ever in doubt, ‘Second Act’s’ pacing still gives Jennifer Lopez’s acting talents room to breathe. Nicely grounded and a world away from the diva headlines of her past, this is a J-Lo has who seems to have relaxed. Settling into a role that more closely resembles her age, her performance as Maya is one you can both respond with and relate to. Nudging slightly towards character-acting in tone, this is a J-Lo film that feels like a first tempered step of a new direction for its star.
In this respect ‘Second Act’s title applies just as easily to Jennifer Lopez as it does its lead character.